Exposed Screed: The Flooring Is Very Trendy

It was hidden as a subfloor in the past, but today it is proudly displayed: the exposed screed. Whether classically gray or now colored, this floor is considered easy to maintain, robust and durable. In this article, we explain how it is made and maintained.

Exposed screed and exposed concrete

The difference between exposed screed and exposed concrete is minimal: concrete is artificially produced from natural products such as sand, gravel, rock and clay, and limestone in combination with water. Concrete is used not only as flooring but also as walls, stairs, or walls in construction. Meanwhile, even many furnishings are made of concrete.

The cement floor is the classic screed and is also made of sand or gravel. Cement screed is considered to be particularly weather-resistant and is therefore also particularly suitable for outdoor and wet areas.

The different screeds

The classic variant is the screed made of cement. Those made of anhydrite are less resilient, especially when installed as a flowing screed. Calcium sulfate is also suitable for the production of a visible screed. This covering deforms only slightly and can be laid well in larger areas – so, in any case, it meets the most important requirements.

Exposed screed in combination with a concrete wall
Exposed screed in combination with a concrete wall.

Exposed screed – the advantages

Concrete and cement screed is equally well suited as a subfloor. Parquet, vinyl, laminate, design flooring, carpet, or tiles are laid on the screed. However, if you omit the covering, you follow the factory style trend, also called industrial style, and have an exposed screed as flooring. Since the floor is seamless, it is considered easy to clean and hygienic, making it suitable for all living spaces and wet rooms, such as a seamless bathroom. The hard-wearing exposed screed can also be easily colored, which allows for an individual design. The floor can also be easily equipped with a heating system, making it increasingly popular, especially for new buildings and renovations.

Exposed screed must cure for six to eight weeks before you can sand and seal it
Exposed screed must cure for six to eight weeks before you can sand and seal it.

If you are renovating, you can remove their flooring to let the screed act as a floor covering. Here you still need to carefully fine work. You can very finely and carefully sand screed until you get a very smooth surface. Finally, it should be treated with special sealers for screed.

Exposed screed in light appearance
Exposed screed in light appearance.

From 40 square meters, you should plan for expansion joints

If you are laying a newly exposed screed in a new building, it is mixed according to instructions until it has a doughy consistency. It is then applied to the substrate flowingly – an edge strip separates the covering from the wall. Vibrators ensure that the material is evenly distributed and that no bubbles form. To avoid cracks in the floor, we should provide joints. After all, cured defects can not be corrected afterward. The screed must then be allowed to cure – this usually takes up to eight weeks.

Exposed screed throughout the house - from the bathroom to the dining and living areas
Exposed screed throughout the house – from the bathroom to the dining and living areas.

Surface treatment

Once the coating has cured, it is sanded down and sealed. There are various options here: For example, coatings made of oil, latex, rubber, wax, or epoxy resin. You can use them to make the exposed screed glossy, transparent, in different colors, or matte. Treatment with impregnation also can not hurt. Thanks to it and the sealant, moisture can no longer harm the floor, and provides sufficient protection against grease splashes.

When sanding, the floor can acquire a denser surface due to silicification.

Sanding and sealing alone can cost 50 euros per square meter. But don’t shy away from the prices – in principle, it is advisable to have an exposed screed laid by a specialist company. After all, for the flowing screed to be properly sanded and sealed, it takes practice and a lot of experience.

Perhaps the only disadvantage compared to other floor coverings is that visible screed drying time is long. It can be up to 28 days.

Typical factory style with processed screed.
Typical factory style with processed screed.

Exposed screed as a heating screed

Here, the hot water heating is often covered with a screed layer of about five centimeters in the floor. A screed is not necessarily cold – it takes on room temperature quickly, similar to plaster. Nevertheless, installing a heating system is a good idea because the liquid installation of the so-called heating screed provides a total sheathing of the heating pipes, increasing the underfloor heating efficiency.

Blue cement floor in the kitchen - colorful exposed screed floors are becoming increasingly popular
Blue cement floor in the kitchen – colorful exposed screed floors are becoming increasingly popular.

Exposed screed: A unique piece

When you choose a visible screed, you create a unique work of art on your premises. The tones can be lighter or darker in certain places, depending on the texture. You can also color the floor as in the example above or work with the coating from matte to a high gloss. There are now no limits to creativity here. Only one thing is important: The exposed screed must be laid carefully and professionally.

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